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The party was for a group of women who all worked together in the food industry. They were all speaking Spanish and I felt a bit out of place. So I headed over to talk to owner Roberto de la Madrid Mateus. He poured me some red wine and said, "Mexico's most important wine region is Baja California. We like to promote the wine culture."

I asked, "Is this location any good? You aren't that close to the border."

He said, "We are sort of near downtown, near the twin towers. We have restaurants and a golf course nearby. It's an excellent location. Obviously, American college kids come to TJ to drink Dos Equis for a dollar at the discos. We provide the wine for a number of restaurants around here, and we do wine tastings, but not a lot of Americans come here. Unfortunately, they can only bring one liter of alcohol per person back across. We probably won't ever get much business from Americans."

I was munching on some cheeses and admitted I know very little about wine. We ended up talking about the movie Sideways for almost an hour. And when he asked if I liked the wine he was pouring me, I said it was great. I admitted I wouldn't know the difference between the cheap stuff and the expensive. Roberto said that is common, even among a few of the connoisseurs. He told me the bottle we were drinking sold for $40.

I walked over to the party, since I hadn't spent time with any of the 25 women gathered here. I saw they had food on one table and were sitting at three other tables. I smiled, but the only conversation I worked my way into was when a woman asked me if I knew someone at the party. I told her why I was there, and she seemed confused by my explanation. She said, "You just go to parties where you know no one? How is that fun for you?"

I went back to talk to the owner. I mentioned his English was perfect (with just a hint of an accent). He told me he went to high school at Mount Miguel High in Spring Valley.

After my second glass of wine, I was feeling tipsy. I'd had a long day of partying with the La Jolla kids, so I bid him adieu. He insisted on having his friend drive me to the border, instead of my taking a cab.

He told me to come back sometime, and I promised I would. But thinking about it on my way back to the border, I realized I just don't love wine enough to justify the trip. I also started trying to do the math on what a liter of wine would cost. Is that a bottle? Two bottles?

Next time I'm down south, I'll probably stick to the Dos Equis.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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